Home / News / Report: Cash Bail System Hurts Poor and Communities of Color in L.A.

Report: Cash Bail System Hurts Poor and Communities of Color in L.A.

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In allege of a legislative battle over reforming California’s cash bail system, a new report shines light on which Los Angeles communities compensate the many bail and by how much. The Price for Freedom, published by the University of California, Los Angeles’ Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, analyzed catch information from 2012 by 2016. The authors resolved that the income bail complement takes a “multi-billion dollar price that demands tens of millions of dollars annually in cash and resources from some of L.A.’s many economically exposed persons, families and communities.”

Using the Los Angeles County Superior Court’s misconduct and transgression bail schedules, researchers detected that bail set for some-more than 374,000 people arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department for misdemeanors and felonies over that five-year duration was $19.4 billion.

Bail agents typically charge 7 to 10 percent of the sum bail; income going to bail bondsmen, either upfront or by installments, is nonrefundable, even if defendants are found not guilty or have their charges forsaken by the prosecutor.


The Bunche Center study also found that the cash bail complement disproportionately affects reduce income Angelenos and communities of color. During the duration covered by the study, black Angelenos paid bond agents $40.7 million in non-refundable fees — 21 percent of sum fees paid to bond agents in a race that represents only 9 percent of the population. Latinos paid just over $92 million, and whites just under $38 million over the same period. Figures for Asian Americans were taken to researchers.

The Bunche Center study is the first extensive demeanour into the distance and impact of the bail complement in the city of Los Angeles. Researchers devise to recover a identical report for Los Angeles County in 2018, observant that the numbers they gathered should show lawmakers what’s at interest in the sharpening discuss over cash bail reform.

Comprehensive legislation to eliminate California’s bail systemfailed in the Legislature this year. Twin bills, Senate Bill 10 authored by Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), and Assembly Bill 42, authored by Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), would chuck out the California bail schedules and charge counties to conduct pretrial assessments to determine whether a defendant poses a reserve hazard to the village or a moody risk. The bills would also charge counties to rise plans to safeguard low-risk defendants show up for their probity dates. Bonta and Hertzberg have vowed to bring back bail remodel legislation early in 2018. And their efforts have the support of Gov. Jerry Brown, who has pronounced “inequities exist” in the system, and of Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who cited the state’s bail complement as “unsafe and unfair,” and created a operative group to suggest changes.

UCLA Professor Kelly Lytle Hernandez, one of the authors of The Price of Freedom, told Capital Main that her study showed 70 percent of the bail volume levied went unpaid, and as a outcome 223,366 people remained behind bars until their arraignment.

“Many of these people don’t even have $100 in the bank, so profitable 10 percent to a bond agent means that income won’t be going toward lease or food. If the breadwinner stays behind bars, the family suffers from miss of income.”

And it is many mostly womanlike family members who, when they are able, rivet bail agents. A 2015 study led by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights found that bonds takes a price on all family members by debt, mental and earthy ailments, and severed family ties.

For Isaac Bryan, a connoisseur researcher in the UCLA Department of Public Policy and a co-author of The Price of Freedom, the issue of cash bail is personal. Eight months ago he perceived a call from a bond agent observant that a family member had  been arrested for purported skill crime and drug possession. The bail was set at $25,000, and would he be means to cover it? As a struggling student, Bryan didn’t have the 10 percent upfront fee.

Supporters of cash bail contend it ensures defendants will show up to court. If they destroy to appear, they pledge their bail money. Critics answer that only works when an arrestee puts up the whole bail amount. If they compensate a bail agent, they remove their down remuneration regardless of either they show up. The agent is on the offshoot for the rest of the bail.

Bail remodel advocates also indicate to a 2017 report, Selling Off Our Freedom, published by the ACLU and the nonprofit Color of Change, which showed that much of the income collected by bail agents goes to big underwriters, including Japan-based Tokio Marine and Toronto-based Fairfax Financial, and that insurers offload many of the risk to bond agents.

Efforts to remodel the cash bail complement have met clever insurgency from law enforcement, prosecutors and, not surprisingly, the bail industry, whose member contend that expelling cash bail would poise substantial mistreat to the public.

“Bail bond is of no responsibility to the taxpayer,” pronounced Zeke Unger, owners of Lil’ Zeke’s Bail Bonds in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. “But if you let defendants out, not only do they have no proclivity to go to court, you’ll have to deposit in manpower to keep lane of them while they’re out.”

Cash-bail advocates also indicate out that agents help defendants, who differently could not means to do so, use their inherent right to bail. But the doubt reformers ask, and what’s at the heart of the remodel discuss is: Why should leisure be dynamic by a person’s bank account?

Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, comparison campaign strategist for the ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice and a author to both Selling Off Our Freedom and The Price for Freedom reports, pronounced that cash bail is ostensible to make certain people return to court, but since of the high bail, in many cases, “it’s a way of gripping people in jail. Bail is not ostensible to be a punishment. Right now the bail complement is wealth-based detention.”

“We know that people of tone are over-policed and over-represented in jails,” she added. “These reports show one some-more piece of the scale of mercantile empty of the rapist probity complement on those communities.”

Across the U.S., states and courts are starting to rethink their cash bail systems. Earlier this year, New Jersey implemented an renovate in its bail structure, and New Mexico is deciding how to residence a voter-backed bail remodel measure. In July, an Illinois judge ordered the remodel of the bail complement in Cook County, which includes Chicago. Now defendants who can't compensate bail and poise no moody risk or risk to the open do not sojourn behind bars before trial.

At the sovereign level, Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced a bill to inspire states to remodel the use of using income bail as a condition of pretrial recover in rapist cases.

Supporters of cash bail may see the remodel essay on the wall, at slightest in California. Jeff Clayton, executive executive of the American Bail Coalition, told Capital Main that, nonetheless his classification will continue lobbying to fight the extermination of cash bail in Sacramento, it competence consent to some reforms.

“Bail is set way too high in California right now, and but the bail attention frequency anyone in the state would get out,” Clayton said. “Even bail on misdemeanors is aloft than for felonies in Colorado. This marketplace imbalance needs to be corrected and doing so wouldn’t have a big impact on us.”

Bail in California is set by a report for any crime, but varies county by county, yet judges have the option to change the bail amount. The Selling Off Our Freedom report found that bail amounts as late as the 1980s were much reduce than today, and many people arrested for felonies were expelled but profitable bail. That report also showed that, nationally, between 1990 and 2009, the share of arrestees compulsory to post income bail grew from 37 to 61 percent, and the share of releases depending on bail bond companies doubled in that same period. The report pronounced bail bondsmen and the insurance attention used high crime rates to accelerate their evidence for laws requiring bail, and lawmakers bought that argument.

Clayton combined that essential reforms could simply do divided with bail for teenager crimes that don’t benefaction a open danger, like loitering, which mostly impact homeless and low-income people. “We shouldn’t catch a person who can’t make bail for longer than [what] the tangible judgment competence be. A 60-day judgment on a fine-eligible offense doesn’t make any sense.”



Larry Buhl is a author and radio writer formed in Los Angeles. He’s a unchanging author to Art Understanding, ATTN:, and DeSmogBlog. He has constructed for the BBC, Marketplace, Free Speech Radio News and Pacifica radio.

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